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Thread: Scientist behaving badly

  1. #1 Scientist behaving badly 
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    Hi, I am new to this forum. I have been reading for some time. This is my first post. It is more about the sociology of science.

    Has anyone seen the exchange in Science magazine between Schall et al and Miller and Buschman? See Technical Comments in Science 5 October 2007:
    Vol. 318. no. 5847.

    Schall's comment on Buschman and Miller's paper is the worst I have seen. Miller and Buschman's response makes clear that Schall got everything wrong. He misunderstood their results and analysis and even misreports results from the prior literature. It seems like Schall read their paper once through quickly and then tossed off his letter in a fit of anger without thinking much about what Buschman and Miller were actually saying.

    It seems to me that Schall is threatened by the new techniques that Buschman and Miller are using. This may be a classic example of the old-fashioned, backward-looking scientist being scared by new approaches. My question is: Why did Science even bother publishing Schall et al's comment. It is a joke.


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  3. #2  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I haven't read the paper, or the comments generated by it. However, I observe that your perception of what happened is exactly that - a perception. Your interpretation of who is correct and who is wrong is a judgement made by you on the basis of the facts, but coloured by your experience and personal biases.
    Therefore, your interpreation may be faulty. That certainly provides suffcient jsutification for the journal to publish the riposte in the first place.

    Welcome to the forum by the way.


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  4. #3  
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    Thanks.

    Agreed. Just my opinion and it is of course colored by my biases. However, I have read many Technical Comments in Science and I have never read one in which the authors' response starts with "these guys misread our paper".
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  5. #4  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrandtLebow
    However, I have read many Technical Comments in Science and I have never read one in which the authors' response starts with "these guys misread our paper".
    Was that the actual wording, or are you paraphrasing? I mean I've read plenty of reactions in journals where reading between the lines the writers have been way more severe than that. If you are saying they were very direct then at least that is more honest than some of the snide stuff that gets passed off as objective criticism.
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  6. #5  
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    The exact words of the first line were: "We believe that Schall et al misread our paper." And it seems that is exactly what happened. Schall thought they were reporting one thing when it turns out that Buschman and Miller were reporting a different value. It seems clear that Schall made the mistake.

    Anyway, I don't care about the debate between these guys, I'm just surprised that Science would bother to publish the original comment by Schall when it was clearly in error. Oh well, I guess Science makes mistakes sometimes. Or if I wanted to be cynical, they may enjoy a good fight.
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